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THE    CHINESE    CHARACTER               49
had illicit relations with his maid. When he learned at a public feast that his wife had sent the maid away, he Immediately borrowed a horse from a friend and galloped off after the maid until he overtook her and carried her back on horseback In the presence of all the guests. These were the people who became admired for their cleverness. People admired them as a small tortoise admires the thick shell of a big tortoise.
Here we seem to have laid our finger on the fatal disease of the body politic, and to see the origin of that indifference which explains the proverbial inability of the Chinese people to organize themselves. It would seem that the curing of the disease Is simple, by having constitutional protection for the people's civil rights. Yet no one has seen the far-reaching consequences of this. No one desires it. No one sincerely wants it.
Perhaps the most striking quality of the Chinese people is what, for want of a better term, must be termed Its "old roguery." It Is the most difficult characteristic to explain to a Westerner and yet at the same time It Is most profound, In that It goes back directly to a different philosophy of life. Compared with this view of life, the whole fabric of Western civilization seems extremely raw and Immature, When a young man tries to drag his old grandfather from his fireside for a sea bath on a September morning and fails to do so, the young man will perhaps show angered astonishment, while the old man will merely show a smile of amusement. That smile Is the smile of the old rogue, and it Is difficult to say which one Is right. All this bustle and restlessness of the spirit of the young man—where will It all lead to? And all this enthusiasm and self-assertion and struggle and war and hot-headed nationalism —where will it all end, and what is It all for? Perhaps It will be futile to find an answer to the question, and equally futile to force one party to accept the view of the other, since It Is all a matter of age.